Growing Concentrations of Poverty in American Suburbs

Updating the initial "Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty" Brookings report, Elizabeth Kneebone shows where concentrations of poverty have taken root during the Great Recession and subsequently slow recovery period.
August 1, 2014, 10am PDT | Maayan Dembo | @DJ_Mayjahn
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Using American Community Survey data for 2008-2012, Elizabeth Kneebone explores how the latest American economic activity has affected the "changing incidence of both distressed neighborhoods, in which at least 40 percent of residents live below poverty, and high-poverty neighborhoods, where at least 20 percent of residents are poor." The report illustrates where concentrated disadvantage has evolved since 2000 throughout 100 of the largest metro areas in the United States, along city and suburban lines.

As stated in the report brief, "after two downturns and subsequent recoveries that failed to reach down the economic ladder, the number of people living below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012) remains stubbornly stuck at record levels." Kneebone found that more residents under the federal poverty live are located in suburbs rather than big cities, or rural communities. Indeed, this demonstrates a "significant shift compared to 2000, when the urban poor still outnumbered suburban residents living in poverty."

Moreover, Kneebone finds that this poverty has not spread, but rather "become more clustered and concentrated in distressed and high-poverty neighborhoods, eroding the brief progress made against concentrated poverty during the late 1990s."

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Published on Thursday, July 31, 2014 in Brookings Institution
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